Independent Research Project: “‘I Don’t Want to Be a Man. I Want to Be Just Me’: Discursive Practices of Real Men.”
Mayra graduated from Swarthmore College with a B.A. in Sociology & Anthropology and from the University of Cambridge with an M.Phil. in Multidisciplinary Gender Studies. After graduating from Swarthmore, Mayra won the prestigious Watson Fellowship and spent a year documenting women’s survival stories and explored a range of gender issues by joining local feminist initiatives and campaigns in nine countries. After her year-long travel, Mayra returned to her hometown in the Chicago suburbs where she helped connect working-class Latinx immigrants to public benefits and legal services. She became a Gates-Cambridge Scholar in 2017, which allowed her to pursue an M.Phil. in Multi-Disciplinary Gender Studies at Cambridge. Her research focused on how indigenous women in Guatemala develop mental health practices and community strategies to address gender-based violence. She was also part of a student-led team evaluating new initiatives launched across Cambridge to prevent harassment and sexual assault. Upon graduation, Mayra was named a Luce Scholar with the Asian Center for Women’s Studies at Ewha Womans University in South Korea, where she helped implement and evaluate initiatives to develop Women’s Studies programs and feminist leaders across Asia. She also supported the advocacy efforts of various Korean NGOs on issues around digital sex crimes and Me Too, and taught a class on gender for young Koreans in partnership with the U.S Embassy in Seoul. Since completing her fellowship, Mayra has continued to live in Seoul. Before COVID, the last project she worked on was planning the 5th interdisciplinary feminist conference with the Asian Association of Women Studies, held in Seoul. Studying in Europe with the WGSE program allowed Mayra to build a foundation in feminism, and it also provided her with her first experience belonging to a feminist community, which has immensely influenced her life professionally and personally.